Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

It'll Be Super to See Stewie Back in the England Team

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

It'll Be Super to See Stewie Back in the England Team

Article excerpt

FAIR play to Stewart Downing for forcing his way back into the England team.

Stewie is someone who I know well from our time together with the Boro Academy, and he has always been a precocious talent.

He looks like he is having a new lease of life after being moved into a more central midfield role by Sam Allardyce in a West Ham team currently enjoying a lofty position in the Premier League.

Stewie has always been a top footballer who is really creative.

He picks passes and can play through people, is quick and is an excellent crosser of the ball as well.

He seems to be really enjoying himself with the Hammers in East London.

After all, it wasn't all that long ago that he was being played out of position as a left-back at Liverpool.

With all respect to Stewie, he couldn't tackle a fish and chip supper.

It's alright being asked to run on from deep and probe past players, but I'm sure he would be the first to admit that tackling isn't his strongest suit.

Being played at left-back must have convinced him that his days at Anfield were numbered, because it must be a huge decision to leave a club as big as Liverpool.

But he has kept going and he seems to be loving his football again, which has led to his England recall after a couple of years out of the international frame.

I first saw Stewie when he was 12 or 13 and he was really quiet and unassuming, and he has kept that side of his character.

There is no edge about him at all.

There are a lot of factors which can make and break the development of a young player, especially socially.

But Stewie kept his head down to forge a professional career for himself and it's rightly so that he is now at the highest level.

When he got to 16 or 17 he suddenly found an extra couple of yards of pace and a little bit of power when he developed physically.

I still remember saying to Steve McClaren when he was Boro manager at the time that he was a real talent who was worth looking at.

And that loan spell at Sunderland seemed to be the making of him.

Going from an environment of reserve team fixtures to playing in front of big 30,000 crowds and playing real competitive football brings you on as a player and makes you grow up. …

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